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Holidays are not about a calendar date, but are about what you make of them…

December 25, 2013, 10:03 PM

Happy Festivus, everyone.  It’s time to air some grievances.  It’s time to discuss this neurotic fascination of some people in trying to force their beliefs on everyone else about how one should spend a holiday.  This year, I have just about had my fill of hearing people insist that all of the stores should be closed on [insert holiday here] so that people can spend time with their families.  It starts around Thanksgiving when the stores announce the hours for their sales.  This is when you hear people say, “What?  They’re open on Thanksgiving?  Why aren’t these people spending time with their families?” or, “You’re taking these people away from their families!”  Recall that there was a story this year about a Pizza Hut manager who lost his job because he refused to open the restaurant that he managed on Thanksgiving.  Then the whole discussion comes around again near Christmas when places make the announcement as to whether or not they’re going to be open on that day.

The thing that these people who raise such a fuss on television, radio, and the Internet tend to forget is that holidays are personal affairs.  Everyone celebrates holidays a little bit differently than the next person.  And not everyone celebrates the same holidays.  For some people, December 25 is “Christmas”.  For other people, December 25 is “Wednesday”.  And the specific dates of many holidays actually have no significance.  The celebration may have significance, but the date itself is usually not directly tied to that celebration.  Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.  It’s that day because Congress set the formal observance on that day, i.e. that day on which the federal government is closed in observance.  Christmas is normally observed on December 25, near the date of the winter solstice.  Why?  Because Christians hijacked some pagan celebrations and made them into their own holiday.  In fact, we don’t know when “Jesus” was born, or if “Jesus” even existed at all.  The dates of some holidays have significance, like Martin Luther King Day (observance of King’s birthday), Washington’s Birthday (I don’t really have to explain this, do I?), Independence Day (marking the date of the Declaration of Independence), and Veterans’ Day (honoring our veterans, on the date that the armistice with Germany took effect, ending World War I), but most of the other holidays’ dates are not significant in and of themselves.  For instance, Labor Day could be the last Monday in August instead of the first Monday in September, and the observance would be unchanged.

All that said, there is no one holding a gun to anyone’s head telling them exactly what day they’re supposed to celebrate any given holiday, and how they’re supposed to celebrate it.  Holidays are what you make them to be.  No one says that you have to have a big Thanksgiving dinner with your family on the fourth Thursday in November.  Some years, I’ve traveled to visit my parents for Thanksgiving.  Other years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving at home and celebrated with friends.  In 2013, my parents and I traveled separately to the Richmond area and spent Thanksgiving with my sister’s in-laws.  Sis and Chris couldn’t get out of Chicago, however, due to work obligations (sad face).  In these occasions, the traditional Thanksgiving meal was held on Thursday, but it would be just as special if it were held on Friday, or if it were held a week before or a week later.  The date itself doesn’t matter.  It’s what you do that matters.  It makes the idea that a store or restaurant “should” close on Thanksgiving because of some concept of family time a little less relevant.  Besides, not every family celebrates holidays the same way.  Some families’ idea of quality time together is cleaning out a store or two.  Others might seek out entertainment.  Or what about those who are having Thanksgiving on another day?  For them, it’s just Thursday, but one where everything is closed.  Besides, how much time can you spend with your family?  I usually spend Thanksgiving with my parents, and while I love them to death (don’t get me wrong), we don’t usually spend the entire day around each other.

Christmas is a little different, because almost everything is closed.  I don’t really celebrate Christmas, though I don’t absolutely hate it so much anymore like I did during my Walmart years (and a few years thereafter).  But let’s just say that neither “Jesus” nor “Santa” factors into what I do on December 25.  I’m seeing various family members later on.  Mom’s coming up to visit me on Friday, and then we’re going up to New Jersey and seeing other relatives on Saturday.  Then in January, Sis and Chris are coming down from Chicago, and we’re all going to get together at my parents’ house.  So the familial quality time of “Christmas” is happening twice in my world.  On December 25, a day I called “Wednesday”, I played around on Reddit, worked on Schumin Web a little bit, and did some grocery shopping.  Seriously, I went to Giant and to Safeway today, and both were doing good business.  The parking lots looked like an average day, and the checkouts had lines.  After all, while all of these people were spending Christmas at home with their families, I seized the opportunity.  For all of the employees who were working there, I am appreciative, and I hope that they have a good time celebrating their holiday of choice at the time of their choosing.

So this idea that holidays are on these specific dates is kind of strange.  I don’t understand why people make themselves miserable if they’re not with relatives on a specific date.  After all, my relatives are just as awesome on December 26 as they are on December 25.  All of these stupid Christmas specials where there’s some manufactured crisis where a family is stuck in an airport on Christmas or something are missing the point.  Holidays are not dates.  They’re celebrations.  Doesn’t matter if your holiday happens on December 25 or September 6, and it doesn’t matter if you’re the only one in the whole town that’s celebrating a holiday on that day.  Choose to celebrate or not to celebrate, celebrate at the time of your choosing, and celebrate it as you see fit with whomever you see fit to celebrate with.  That’s my idea of a holiday.

Categories: Christmas, Religion